It seemed like such a good idea at the time for streaming giant Netflix. Buy the rights to a biopic of President Obama as a young man and release it just before the inauguration of Hillary Clinton who was committed to extending his policies.
But we all know what happened and now the fall-out from Trump’s victory is affecting the release of Barry, which stars Australian actor Devvon Terrell as a 20-year-old Obama.
The movie, which began streaming today, is about the future President’s racial identity and love life while he was studying at Columbia University in New York. But it isn’t getting much love from Netflix even though they paid almost $5 million for worldwide rights last September for the film, which is written by Adam Mansbach — best known for the “children’s book for adults” Go the *uck to Sleep.
The movie’s Twitter handle has just 20 followers, with Netflix instead focusing its energies on promoting new drama The OA, which was also released today. Netflix’s Facebook page, usually zealous about promoting its new shows and movies, hasn’t mentioned anything about Barry since December 2.
The movie enjoyed glowing reviews when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and has received favorable publicity in Obama-friendly outlets such as Vogue and on MSNBC and CNN.
While a few die-hard Obama fans have tweeted their enthusiasm about the film, on Rotten Tomatoes Barry has an audience score of 33% compared with 80% from critics. One user, Mayra Serrano, wrote: “I was looking forward to see this movie, but the whole time it felt flat, boring.” The only user review on IMDB slams Barry as a “Lame Duck Movie, like the lame Duck President he is.”
This is the second ‘Young Obama’ movie following Southside With You, which was released last summer to a mediocre reception. The only good news for Netflix is their policy of not releasing viewership data will help save the company’s blushes over Barry.